Kelley Cain out with concussion

Kelley Cain will miss the upcoming game against George Washington because of a concussion she suffered in Saturday's game against UCLA. Cain, a redshirt sophomore, will be monitored under the school's concussion protocol, and the absence of the 6'6 center means the 5'2 Briana Bass shifts to the starting lineup at point guard.

Kelley Cain was held out of practice on Sunday and has already been removed from Tuesday's game against George Washington. It is at least the fourth concussion for Cain – and the second this fall as she had one last August that was non-basketball related – and the school has a regimented protocol that must be followed before she is allowed back on the court.

"She suffered a concussion, and we are following our concussion protocol," said Jenny Moshak, the program's chief of sports medicine.

That protocol involves physical and mental tests that an athlete must pass before she is allowed back into competition. Baseline tests are done – for example, ones of balance – when an athlete enters school, and she must reach those same cognitive and physical levels before being cleared to play.

Cain sustained a blow to the back of the head in the second half in the 61-47 win over UCLA. She left the game late in the second half – she had missed some shots she usually hits with ease – and did not return.

"I just want to give her a break," said Coach Pat Summitt of the decision to hold Cain out of practice and go ahead and declare her out for Tuesday's game.

With Cain out for Tuesday's game, forwards Taber Spani and Glory Johnson shift inside on both ends of the floor, and Angie Bjorklund and Shekinna Stricklen will be on the wings. Briana Bass moves to the point position. The move makes Tennessee considerably shorter but with Bass having the ball in her hands to start the game it also makes the Lady Vols quicker.

The rest of the team was on the practice floor Sunday afternoon after a lackluster performance on Saturday. Summitt had originally intended for Sunday to be a day of rest, but she revised her schedule after watching her team's lack of effort in the first half on Saturday.

"I thought we did a lot of good things, but there was no way we were going to give them the day off," Summitt said. "If I'm going to be miserable … I am not going to accept it. If I am going to be miserable they are, too."

The players practiced for about two hours Sunday afternoon in an energetic session, and then held a weight workout with Heather Mason. Sophomore forward Alicia Manning, who suffered a contusion to her right knee in the UCLA game, wore a kneepad and returned to the court.

The change in plans allowed the coaches to hold an up-tempo practice session, as they would not have done so on Monday, the day before a game, in order to save the players' legs.

Monday will now be an off day, and the team will regroup Tuesday for a shoot-around and scouting report review before the 7 p.m. Eastern game (SportSouth) against George Washington.

Summitt spent considerable time Sunday talking to the players in their pre-practice circle, and the tone of her voice indicated her displeasure with the lethargic effort against UCLA to start the game.

"What we saw last game, unacceptable," Summitt said after practice of the gist of her remarks to the team. "That is not Tennessee. If y'all want to go back and start running Gate 10 (at the football stadium) and pushing the (weighted) grocery carts (for conditioning), we can do that. Because we are not going to tolerate this. Not at all.

"Last year when they were freshmen I was trying to figure out, ‘OK, when can I be tough?' No, I don't have anything to figure out now other than I've raised the bar. Our whole coaching staff has raised the bar. I am not going to put up with it."

At least one person was very happy that the Lady Vols were practicing on Sunday – Villanova Coach Harry Perretta, whose Big East team was in the Double Tree Classic in Chattanooga and defeated the host school, 64-59, on Saturday to win the tournament. He made a stop in Knoxville to visit Summitt and watched the Lady Vols' practice session.

"It's really great to see Harry," Summitt said. "We talk basketball a lot. Obviously he was in Chattanooga and had a big win. When he called me, I said, ‘Guess what, we're practicing today.' And he said, ‘Oh, great.' It's good to have him at practice."

Perretta's stay in the Southeast was extended for recruiting reasons, so Summitt invited him to her house for a home-cooked meal.

"I've got to find out right now what he wants for dinner, and I'm going to cook for him, because the man can eat," Summitt said. "He'll be on overload. I know he's going to want a big steak."

That festive evening will be followed Monday by Summitt's appearance at Thompson-Boling Arena for the national tour of the Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall fame in New York.

"They called the office and asked if I would introduce them," said Summitt, who hinted that her appearance could include a bit of a performance with the high-kicking stars of stage. "I was excited. I've got a good intro coming up."

PAT PRAISE: Pat Summitt has had plenty of praise for her coaching colleagues this season. Naturally, she expressed pride for the job that Nikki Caldwell has done at UCLA. Caldwell is a former Lady Vol player and assistant, and Summitt is close to her family.

Summitt also saluted Virginia Coach Debbie Ryan in her post-game press conference after Tennessee played in Charlottesville on Nov. 22.

"I think Debbie is very well respected and she's had a lot of great teams, had a lot of success," Summitt said. "Her players graduate. She continues to be able to recruit at a high level, and she does it the right way. That's how we want to see it done."

In another Tennessee connection, Caldwell was an assistant under Ryan before taking the bench job with Summitt.

"It was good to come home and see my family and friends," Caldwell said after Saturday's game. "I had a great Thanksgiving dinner with the team. I am just very proud to bring my team back here, because Tennessee is true to my heart. I'm very privileged to be a former player of the Lady Vols, and obviously I have much respect for Coach Summitt and what she's meant to the women's game."

Ryan returned the compliment and noted that when she was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in the class of 2008, Summitt hosted the inductees at her house for a party.

"I have an excellent relationship with Pat," Ryan said. "I just think that Pat Summitt is a very, very special person in our game. And I say that not because of the championships and because of all the things that she's won but because of the way that she gives to the game. She gives more than anybody I've ever seen.

"She'll let you watch her practice the day before you play. She doesn't care if you know what the scouting report is because she's just going to prepare her team the best way she can, and she feels like it doesn't matter. She gives all the time to the game. Not every coach will step out and give the way that Pat gives. She gives back in a way that it is my opinion extraordinary. I am a better person for knowing Pat Summitt."


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